“Soliciting in an aggressive manner,” an offence for panhandling under the Mike Harris-era Safe Streets Act in the 1990s in Ontario was brought in to curtail panhandling. According to a study by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at York University, it cost more than $1 million in police time to hand out at least $4 million in panhandling tickets under the Safe Streets Act from 2000 to 2010. Ninety-nine per cent of them were unpaid at the time of the study in 2014.
That expensive precedent needs to be taken into consideration if it was ever going to be attempted to implement such a measure here in Vernon.
There have been times in the past when I have been critical of council in terms of how they have approached this issue. The irony of that approach has been that an astute and vigilant attention to the issue by Scott Anderson, coupled with a humanistic approach by Juliette Cunningham, with the consensus of the rest of city council, seems to be working.
The people on the streets that I talk to every day have expressed an awareness of, and an appreciation of a city government that is cognizant of their issues and is demonstrating empathy. “The longest journey starts with a single step.”